THE Clippers said goodbye to yet another part of its past when it agreed to swap nine-year veteran Patrick Beverley with the Grizzlies’ Eric Bledsoe. For all his susceptibility to injury, Beverley embodied and epitomized the scrappy culture of the red and blue. Acquired from the Rockets in 2017 as part of a contingent exchanged for future Hall of Famer Chris Paul, he quickly won a spot on the regular rotation in the face of his relentless mind-set. His was the kind of character beloved at home and despised on the road, thereby making him all but indispensable.
That the Clippers saw fit to deal Beverley speaks of his diminished standing in recent memory. In part, it’s due to his frequent — if forced — absences from the lineup; the very style of play that made him invaluable to the cause likewise wound up being his handicap. In larger measure, his departure is an offshoot of the franchise’s less-than-prudent spending; he was shipped along with supposed cog Rajon Rondo and trade add-on Daniel Oturu to enable it to save a whopping $30 million in luxury tax payments, not to mention use — should it so desire — of an $8.3-million traded player exception.
To be sure, the move became a no-brainer for the Clippers given Bledsoe’s defensive predilections. And he comes at a relative bargain, as well as providing flexibility next offseason; by then, he will be in the last year of a contract that, on paper, will pay him $19.3 million, but that guarantees him only $3.9 million. Meanwhile, Beverley, whose role he is slated to take over, is two years older at 33 and fresh off a campaign spent half the time on the sidelines.
If the arrangement takes on a “What have you done for me lately?” complexion, it’s because reality has long trumped sentiment. Three and a half years ago, the Clippers parted ways with supposed cornerstone Blake Griffin in order to claim a brighter future. Even as they have remained snakebitten since then, there can be no doubting the front office’s capacity to explore all opportunities. No one is untradable. No one is safe.
Beverley will be missed, but not for long. And the Clippers don’t figure to go deep in the playoffs even with the more reliable Bledsoe suiting up for them. That said, the turn of events was inevitable, especially in a year sans top dog Kawhi Leonard. The hardware comes off as impossible. The savings come off as prudent.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.